Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lightning wins Cooper's coaching debut

TAMPA — As a master motivator, and former defense attorney, new Lightning coach Jon Cooper has a way with words.

But Cooper didn't need many to succinctly describe his unforgettable NHL coaching debut Friday, a 5-4 shootout win over the Devils in front of an announced sellout crowd of 19,204 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

"Wow," Cooper said, smiling. "How about that?"

The Lightning (15-18-1) said it embodied the swagger of its 45-year-old coach, overcoming two two-goal deficits against future Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur. Alex Killorn, who scored the tying goal with 15.1 seconds left in regulation, said the comeback was similar to a lot of the "character wins" Cooper sparked while leading Tampa Bay's AHL team, for which Killorn played.

And Cooper had the magic touch in the shootout. The first two players he picked to go, Teddy Purcell and Victor Hedman, scored, and goalie Mathieu Garon stood tall with two saves.

"That was a lot of fun," Cooper said. "I'm going to remember this one for a long, long time."

Cooper looked relaxed in the hours before the game, including cracking players up with jokes at the morning skate. He said that inside he felt the opposite, experiencing a "wave of emotions" in a week that has included a few sleepless nights since he was hired Monday to replace fired Guy Boucher.

But the butterflies didn't hit him until he found himself alone in the coaches office during warmups. "I'm like, 'Wow, I'm nervous,' " he said. "I'm like, 'Come on, somebody come in the room,' and nobody walked in. But as soon as the puck drops, all of a sudden you're in your element and it was over."

Cooper knew it wasn't over after the Devils scored two goals in 51 seconds in the second period to lead 2-0. Tampa Bay answered a couple of minutes later, scoring twice in 2:26. That included Nate Thompson darting between two Devils for a partial breakaway goal.

"He epitomized what we were (Friday)," Cooper said. "He lifted our team when he scored that goal. There was just no give-up in him."

And when New Jersey went up 4-2 early in the third, Cooper reminded his team it already had erased a two-goal deficit. "I think that's what gave us that little boost and second wind," rookie Cory Conacher said. Said Killorn: "We all rallied behind (Cooper)."

Steven Stamkos' second goal of the game, his league-leading 25th, brought Tampa Bay within 4-3. A final-minute flurry with Garon pulled forced overtime, with Stamkos' spectacular cross-zone pass setting up Killorn's one-timer. Quipped Stamkos: " 'Coop' got all the nerves out of the way tonight."

Lightning 0 2 2 0 5
Devils 0 3 1 0 4
Lightning wins shootout 2-0
Lightning 0 2 2 0 5
Devils 0 3 1 0 4
Lightning wins shootout 2-0

First PeriodNone. PenaltiesAulie, TB (interference), 3:01; Kostopoulos, NJ, major (fighting), 12:06; Fayne, NJ (tripping), 12:06; Gudas, TB, major (fighting), 12:06.

Second Period1, NJ, Loktionov 7 (D'Agostini, Greene), 5:50. 2, NJ, Kostopoulos 1 (penalty shot), 6:41. 3, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 24 (St. Louis, Aulie), 8:00. 4, Tampa Bay, Thompson 7 (Panik, Gudas), 10:26. 5, NJ, Greene 3 (D'Agostini, Zidlicky), 13:58 (pp). PenaltiesAulie, TB (high-sticking), 12:38; Brewer, TB (hooking), 14:19; Stamkos, TB (interference), 16:53.

Third Period6, NJ, Carter 4, 2:39 (sh). 7, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 25 (Killorn), 7:11. 8, Tampa Bay, Killorn 5 (Stamkos, Carle), 19:44. PenaltiesSalvador, NJ (tripping), 1:52; Gudas, TB (goaltender interference), 8:20.

OTNone. PenaltiesD'Agostini, NJ (holding), 1:34. ShootoutNJ 0 (Zajac NG, Elias NG), Tampa Bay 2 (Purcell G, Hedman G). Shots on GoalNJ 7-10-7-1—25. Tampa Bay 5-8-9-3—25. Power-play opportunitiesNJ 1 of 5; Tampa Bay 0 of 3. GoaliesNJ, Brodeur 10-2-5 (25 shots-21 saves). Tampa Bay, Garon 5-8-0 (25-21).

Lightning wins Cooper's coaching debut 03/29/13 [Last modified: Saturday, March 30, 2013 12:35am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays morning after: There (really) are still reasons to be optimistic

    Blogs

    There are plenty of reasons to be pessimistic about the Rays' chances to get out of their extended skid and make the playoffs, including veteran 3B Evan Longoria's acknowledgement after Thursday's game that the pressures of …

  2. Is Bucs kicker Nick Folk a significant upgrade over Roberto Aguayo?

    Bucs

    Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter made it clear.

    Bucs kicker Nick Folk is entering his 11th NFL season. He spent three seasons with the Cowboys and seven with the Jets. [LOREN ELLIOTT  |  Times]
  3. Tim Tebow Week: 12 stories from his Tampa Bay tour

    Minors

    Alas, Tim Tebow Week — eight baseball games in eight nights that reunited Tebow with his Tampa Bay friends and admirers — is over. The fun ended Thursday night.

    St. Lucie Mets outfielder Tim Tebow meets fans and signs autographs before the beginning of the Mets at Threshers game at Spectrum Field on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 in Clearwater. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times

  4. Bucs journal: Kicker Nick Folk has up and downs against Jaguars

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE — If the Bucs had hoped for a drama-free night in their kicking game, they'll have to wait another week.

    Bucs kicker Nick Folk celebrates one of his two made field goals against the Jaguars, but he also misses a field goal and has an extra point blocked.
  5. Bucs top Jaguars behind strong first half

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE

    There is a reason why the air in Tampa Bay is filled with playoff talk. If Thursday night's 12-8 Bucs preseason win over the Jaguars is any indication, it's also going to be filled with footballs thrown by quarterback Jameis Winston.

    Doug Martin gets the Bucs’ only touchdown  on a 2-yard run, squeaking past linebacker Telvin Smith in the first quarter. He has five carries for 30 yards.